ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) and Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) have expressed concern over court directives to indict journalists in a case related to the affidavit of former chief judge of Gilgit-Baltistan Rana Shamim.

In a joint statement issued on Monday, the PFUJ, PBC and HRCP said that journalists should not be punished for merely performing their professional duties.

PFUJ, PBC and HRCP say journalists must not be punished for doing their duties

“Media reports of court directives to indict senior journalists have created concerns among the national communities of journalists, lawyers and rights activists, and their representative associations, who believe that this may create a precedent that may potentially lead to greater persecution of media by other predators of freedom of expression,” the joint statement said.

“It is the considered opinion of PFUJ, the apex body of journalists in Pakistan, that reporter Ansar Abbasi merely performed his professional duties whil filing a report related to the affidavit that is in public interest,” the statement said, adding that this PFUJ stance has been articulated in the Islamabad High Court before its honourable judges, in its role as amicus curiae.

“This stance — that public has a right to know and that verifiable information through professional journalism is the cornerstone of professional media, which the reporter in question and his editors performed on this benchmark — has already been endorsed by PBC, HRCP and the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE),” it said.

The statement also mentioned the support extended by international freedom watchdogs such as Reporters Without Borders, Committee to Protect Journalists and International Federation of Journalists.

Published in Dawn, January 4th, 2022

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